On Tuesday 14 February, the Irish government announced the closure of the Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP). IIP applications via approved projects may be granted a grace period of three months to submit the finalised application. Any interest in IIP is the last chance and would have to apply on an urgent and immediate basis or the programme will no longer be available. Contact us now.

Relocating to Ireland – what is living in Ireland really like?

Have you ever wondered what it’s like living in a country that rates second in the world for quality of life? In the United Nations Human Development Index for 2020, which measures longevity, education and wealth for 189 countries around the globe, Ireland ranked in joint second place with Switzerland, just behind Norway.

Quality of life is indeed what Ireland offers. Filled with rolling green landscapes and boasting a moderate climate and clean fresh air, Ireland has an abundance of nature and natural beauty. It is also one of the most talked-about food destinations in Europe, with plenty of produce exported around the world, from artisanal cheese and exceptional beef and lamb to fresh-off-the-boat seafood. Irish cuisine itself is tasty, characterized by simple, hearty cooking that follows the seasons. This can be enjoyed alongside some of Ireland’s most popular drinks, from Guinness to Jameson to Bailey’s, while the country’s pub culture, as well as its drinks venues, which range from secret speakeasies to glamorous lounges and cocktail havens, have their own draw.

Irish Stew

The Emerald Isle is also one of the most open economies in the world with a large and vibrant international business sector (read our latest Market Update). The European Union member state is the only country in the EU whose first language is English and it offers unparalleled accessibility to the UK under the Common Travel Agreement (CTA) ensuring it is a unique place for FDI, working and living. After visiting Ireland, it is no surprise that many often decide to move there from the USA, Canada, the UK, Germany and many countries around Asia. Ireland has emerged as a prime destination for HNWIs and their families who are looking for a high standard of living.

Besides Ireland’s quality of life, there are a number of other indices where Ireland ranks favourably:

  • Smiles all around – Ireland ranks 16th on the world happiness index, which is no small feat, especially as it rates above nations such as Germany, the USA and the UAE. Chances are you’ll always be greeted with a smile in Ireland’s many establishments
  • Let’s do some business – Ireland ranks 24th on the ease of doing business index, and its status as a first-world tax haven makes it even more enticing to entrepreneurs and businesses to set up shop on Irish shores
  • Outstanding healthcare – Ireland ranks 19th on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) overall healthcare system rankings, above many European counterparts including Switzerland, Belgium and Germany. Ireland also boasts 33 medical doctors per 10,000 people; to put that in context the UK has 28 and the USA has 26.

Overview and basic facts

If moving to Ireland sounds increasingly tempting, the process of making it happen can be easier than one might anticipate. First, a few more facts to cement the Isle’s appeal:

Ireland facts

The Irish passport:

  • Visa-free access to 185 countries
  • The only EU passport that allows the holder to live and work in the UK
  • Ranks 6th in terms of travel freedom (tied with the Dutch, French, Portuguese and Swedish passports). Find out more here.

Ireland at leisure:

Golfing: Scotland might be considered the birthplace of golf, but Ireland has a long and strong connection with the sport. It is home to the world’s oldest golfing union, the Golfing Union of Ireland, which was founded in 1891.

Yachting: Founded in 1720, the Royal Cork, formerly known as the Water Club of the Harbour of Cork in Ireland, holds the title of the oldest yacht club in the world.

Fishing: Ireland is one of the most popular sport fishing destinations in Europe. Its coastal waters abound with fish and visiting sports fishermen can anticipate a catch from more than 80 species ranging from a blenny of a few grams to a sixgill shark of over 400kg.

Prepare for your move

If you are visiting Ireland from the USA, Canada, Australia or many places outside the European Union, you do not need a visa to visit Ireland for up to 90 days. However, if you plan on living and working in Ireland, citizens of non-EU countries must apply for an Irish work permit, student visa or residency. If you are moving to Ireland from the UK, Germany or other EU countries, you are free to live, study or work in Ireland, however, you are required to register with the relevant authorities within your first month of moving.

Whether you are moving a few boxes or a whole household that might include children, pets and cars, there are multiple things to consider. Our Regional Director Jeffrey Ling interviewed Josh Sims, General Manager of Santa Fe, a relocation firm experienced in helping companies, families and individuals move to different countries. Sante Fe has offices throughout APAC, Europe and the US, including in Dublin, Ireland. Here are some of the essential things to know:


Finding accommodation in Ireland can be one of the more stressful aspects of moving to the country –and to Dublin in particular. As the capital is small and already has a large population, housing is limited. Expatriates can expect it to take at least a month to find the right home. And with a competitive housing market comes a fairly high average rent. Those relocating from overseas might consider purchasing property instead of renting. There are no legal restrictions on the ownership of real estate in Ireland so property can belong to resident or non-resident parties. There are also no restrictions on the transfer of ownership of property from one person to another. All this makes Ireland a great place to buy real estate and to do business.

Bartra’s residential project – Dublin Glensavage, Avoca Road in Blackrock

When it comes to the capital, the question is where in Dublin is the best place to live? First thing to know is that the city is divided by the Liffey River, which cuts it in two, leaving Dublin with a north side and a south side. Southern districts such as D2, D4 and D6 are the most popular as they have good schools and are central locations that are convenient for family life, shopping and leisure. Popular neighbourhoods include Ballsbridge, Donnybrook, Ranelagh, Blackrock, Dalkey, Killiney, Malahide, Howth and Castleknock.

Worth also noting is that D7 Stoneybatter is considered Dublin’s hippest neighbourhood, filled with trendy bars and restaurants. It is also where Bartra’s latest IIP social housing project, which was completed on time despite disruptions caused by the pandemic and lockdowns, is located. Read more about Stoneybatter here.


Real site photos, Stoneybatter, Bartra’s social housing project

For more on Irish housing, read our article on Ireland’s property market, a worthwhile investment.

Obtain Irish residency in 6 months

Ireland not only tops the charts as the best immigration destination for HNWIs due to all that the country itself has to offer, but its investment immigration programme, the IIP, plays a crucial part as well. The IIP is simple and extremely quick, with processing times averaging between four and six months. It is also extremely welcoming of investors’ needs, as it gives them four options to choose from:

  • Enterprise investment of €1 million in an Irish enterprise. This is the most popular option, chosen by 81% of all applicants, as chances of approval are highest if investing in a government-preferred sector, and there is the possibility of a good ROI
  • Investment fund option in the value of €1 million
  • Real Estate Investment Trust investment of €2 million
  • A €500,000 philanthropic donation to a project which is of public benefit to the arts, sport, health, culture or education in Ireland

As well as offering investors more flexibility in their investment options, the IIP allows applicants to add their spouse and dependent children below the age of 24 to their application. And unlike many residency-by-investment programmes, the IIP does not require long periods of residency for the applicant to maintain their residency but instead requires them to stay only one day within Ireland per year. Simple and quick, it’s no wonder the IIP has historically maintained a steady stream of applications.

Ultimately, the truth is that Ireland has it all. And more investors are starting to see this. It ticks all the boxes and is well-positioned to hold the title of the best immigration destination for HNWIs indefinitely. The magnificent country, refined IIP, and attractive investments make it an option no investor should overlook when searching for a new home.

Ireland Market Update – Economy, Property and ESG

Covid-19 and the global pandemic have battered economies around the world. Yet some have fared better than others. Ireland has proved resilient, recording economic growth and strong demand in other sectors of its market, such as real estate. Here, we look at how the nation has fared and what we can expect going forward.


The European headquarters of Google on Barrow Street, historic docklands of Dublin

Of all the EU economies, Ireland’s was the only one that recorded economic growth in 2020. GDP expanded by 3.4% according to the Central Statistics Office Ireland, despite falling 6.3% in the EU overall (and by 6.8% in the eurozone). This growth was largely driven by the export sector as many US companies use the country as a gateway to Europe. The domestic economy was less rosy, with demand shrinking 5.5% in 2020 and household consumption dropping 9%.

The economy’s growth is expected to continue in 2021, despite a tough first quarter thanks to lockdown in December and January as well as Brexit, though predictions suggest that it should regain its momentum with 3.5% growth expected for 2021, which should continue in 2022, as estimated by the EU.

As well as the wealth of multinationals and large US companies that have made Ireland home, the country is also benefiting from the fallout from Brexit with Dublin the most popular city for relocations by financial firms. According to EY, Dublin has seen almost 7,600 job relocations from Britain since the referendum, with 36 firms saying they will or are considering relocation to the city, of which nine are universal banks, investment banks and brokerages, 18 are wealth and asset managers and six are insurers or insurance brokers.

As a gateway to Europe and an attractive alternative to Britain now it is no longer a member of the EU, Ireland also offers a competitive tax regime that is comparatively appealing as a location for business. And the nation appears committed to maintaining its 12.5% corporation tax rate, according to KPMG, keen as it is to ensure that its tax system remains competitive, fair and sustainable, and ultimately attractive for business.

The tech sector also continues to thrive, boasting international tech companies including IBM and Microsoft as well as a burgeoning startups sector. The focus for many of these companies is deep technology as well as areas such as quantum computing, AI, robotics and IoT. Additionally, Trinity College Dublin launched a “world-class” AI accelerator programme in February 2021 to support early-stage AI businesses in the areas of Retail, Digital Health, FinTech, InsurTech, Regulatory, and Compliance, with a vision to help Ireland become a leader in using AI technology to benefit citizens and society.

Tech and Ireland continue to become increasingly interlinked. The new darling of Silicon Valley, Stripe looks like the latest company to give Dublin’s fintech sector a boost, as its founders, San Francisco-based Irish brothers Patrick and John Collison, plan to use the company’s latest USD600m funding to fuel expansion in Europe. This includes hiring 1000 more people in the company’s Dublin office over the next five years.

According to Fitch ratings, Ireland’s economic outlook is stable, with long-term foreign-currency IDR at ‘A+’ and governance and human development indicators comparing favourably with both AA and A medians. While the country is subject to elevated levels of public debt and risks around the uncertainty caused by Brexit, the effect of the pandemic is expected to be mild with pre-pandemic GDP growth boding well. Ireland’s 2021 budget includes an expansionary policy package of around EUR17.75 billion, which amounts to 4.6% of forecast GDP, including strong increases in health spending and capital expenditure, as well as a reserve of EUR5.5 billion available for further economic support if required.

Property Market


Ireland’s property market dictates the attractiveness and competitiveness of the country as a location for business, as cost of living is a key factor for prospective companies looking for a foothold in Europe or outside of Britain.

The last year has seen growth for some property sectors in particular, including the multifamily and private rented sector, social housing, industrial and logistics, and data centres, according to CBRE’s Ireland Real Estate Market Outlook report. Retail and hotels, on the other hand, understandably struggled as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Predictions for the year ahead see a focus on core assets in the office, industrial and residential sectors, with some looking towards alternative niche investment sectors, such as social housing, healthcare, data centres and life sciences, according to the same report.

Residential investment in the multifamily sector accounted for 48% of total investment spend last year. The balance of supply and demand in this sector worsened in 2020 – less than 20,000 housing units were delivered during the year demonstrating that supply of both public and private housing has come on stream at a very slow pace, while demand continues to outpace it. Therefore, investor interest continues to grow. The imbalance between supply and demand has also supported rental growth – prime yields remained unchanged at 3.75% in 2020 despite the challenging economic backdrop.

With an ageing population, investors continue to be attracted to nursing homes in Ireland. CSO data released last year showed that 14.5% of Ireland’s population are now aged over 65, marking an increase of 11.3% from a decade ago. This is expected to rise in the coming decade. By 2036, Ireland’s population aged over 80 is expected to rise from 170,000 in 2020 to more than double at 343,000. ESRI has projected a 39% increase in demand for residential long-term care, alongside a 70% increase for homecare services.

In this sector, supply remains constrained with very few nursing homes under development. In 2020 Northwood Nursing Home in Santry, Dublin 9, Beaumont Lodge in Dublin 5, SignaCare Waterford at Christendom, Co. Waterford, and Willow Brooke Care Centre in Castleisland, Co. Kerry opened. Appetite for this sector looks likely to continue in the coming year, particularly for primary care centres, nursing homes and other residential care facilities and private hospitals. Investment in nursing homes is dominated by French, German and Dutch groups; Irish and UK funds are the main investors in the primary care centre sector – and this is likely to continue in both respects.



Ireland boasts an ESG Relevance Score (RS) of 5 for both Political Stability and Rights, and for the Rule of Law, Institutional and Regulatory Quality and Control of Corruption, as well as a high World Bank Governance Indicators (WBGI) of 89.2. These scores reflect a long track record in the country of stable and peaceful political transitions, well-established rights for participation in the political process, strong institutional capacity, effective rule of law and low-level corruption.

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index 2020 saw Ireland ranked at number eight, scoring highly in particular on Electoral process and pluralism, Political participation, Political Culture and Civil Liberties.

The country is also considered progressive in the way it is transitioning towards an equitable, fair and sustainable society. The Transitions Performance Index (TPI) ranks Ireland as the third-best country in the EU and fifth-best in the world in creating conditions for a sustainable future. Ireland was also shown to have the most improved overall score of any of the 70 countries assessed in the study, which included all 27 EU member states. Switzerland topped the list, followed by Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK.